Applying the 21/90 rule to reading scripture
Ever heard of the 21/90 rule? The 21/90 rule (first named by Dr. Maxwell Maltz in 1960) asserts that practicing a personal goal for 21 days straight followed by consistency over another 90 days results in a lifestyle change. 120 DAYS!! That’s where many of us are. 120 days of reading God’s Word. And, more than that … reading God’s Word together and chronologically toward understanding God’s Story, OUR story.
New behaviors become habits
What happens during the 21/90 process to make it work? New behaviors become habits as they become automatic, and we carry them out without much conscious thought. In the athletic arena, that’s called muscle memory. Muscles are trained to respond to cues so that we “automatically” assume the best posture at the tee or “automatically” swing the bat with a particular form and follow-through.
This is not just a musculoskeletal phenomenon. Muscles must be innervated to act, so it all begins in our minds. And that’s biblical! “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …” Paul taught Roman Christians. New neural pathways can be made, carved, pioneered no matter what your patterns have been.
New habits are always possible.
Transforming our minds and lives
Bible study is about more than gleaning information. It is about the transformation of our minds (how we think about God and God’s Truth) and, so, our lives (how we respond to God or enact God’s Truth) by handing ourselves to the Author of Truth. “Seeing” how others have heard God’s call and been compelled to pursue Divine Truth changes us. “Hearing” how others have been redeemed, delivered, loved by the Almighty who refuses to settle for separation changes us. Discovering solidarity with those who, though they’ve gone before us, have trusted in the hope that is ours in Jesus changes us.
In our 120-day journey-thus-far, we’ve wrestled with how little time it took for humanity to think we knew better than God about something and how naturally hiding comes to us rather than standing in our Truth. We’ve wrestled with how it seems that God not only is aware of all that happened to Job, but that God allows it to happen. We’ve wrestled with the annoying facts that the Israelites seem to have been slow learners of the benefit of obedience and loyalty to God, that they stunk at teaching their whole story to the “next” generation, and that we are so very much like them. We’ve wrestled with how disappointingly the Israelites demanded a king be appointed over them (one like everyone else had) choosing the easy over the Divine. Shall I go on?
Making a habit of reading Scripture daily
Yet, these are only bits of information. What about the lifestyle changes that are happening? See if you don’t recognize some of these happening in your life as you make a habit of reading Scripture daily:
- prioritizing listening to God’s voice above all the other voices that clamor for our attention
- respecting the potential of each day and, so, receiving more fully the gift of each day
- discovering ever-deepening joy in following Jesus and passion for serving God
- cherishing the beauty of the community of Kingdom life, leaning on one another
One day, or day one, your choice
It’s never too late to make a new pattern, develop a new habit, to invite transformation into your life. Bible study is only one aspect of a Disciple’s Life that offers transformation and renewal. Are you satisfied with your life as a disciple of Jesus? Better yet, do you think God is delighted with your relationship? What do you wish was different about your life?
Set a 21/90 goal and go for it!